We all know the old saying "the customer is always right." Well, we also know that the customer is often wrong. In this case, very, very wrong.
Some background on this story: Kate runs a cake shop that specializes in custom cakes. Think weddings, birthdays, big parties where something elaborate is needed. Similar to the cake shows on TV, but without all the drama. Well, normally without the drama. You also need to know that Kate looks much younger than she is. She is 27, but looks much, much younger (lucky her). Since she was a young business owner, her father often helps her out. Not only is he a great employee, but it’s some quality father-daughter time. And, because people are too quick to judge, they often direct questions to her father, assuming he is in charge. She understand, but it still gets annoying. Especially in this situation.
Kate’s bakery also specializes in being 100% peanut and treenut free. She takes this VERY seriously, as a small amount of peanut could be deadly to the wrong person. It means she’s cautious of where the ingredients come from, ensuring there is no cross contamination in manufacturing. She doesn’t even allow employees into the back room if they have recently been in contact with nuts. This is so her customers can be 100% certain they are getting a cake that is safe for them and their children.
This level of care does make ordering ingredients hard. Many of the things she needs have a longer lead time because they can only come from 1-2 sources (Examples: Gluten free flour, or Pea-NOT Butter, a fake peanut butter). Kate is well known around town as being peanut free, and many of her customers come to her purely because of this. And just in case anyone is unaware, she has it written everywhere. To the point that "A PEANUT AND TREE NUT FREE BAKERY!" is sprawled on the wall and banners outside the shop.
It seems some people didn’t get the hint.
Our story takes place in the middle of wedding season. As many of you know, this can be a truly chaotic time for bakeries, venues, and florists. Most people acknowledge this and act like reasonable people. Some don’t. In a normal week, Kate’s bakery require at least a 7 day lead time for cakes. This is normally not an issue as the parties they provide cakes for are planned months, even years in advance. This allows Kate to plan everything out, set employee hours, and order ingredients. Aka, run her business well. Other bakeries in their area often have a 14 day lead time, so 7 seems quite reasonable!
But this isn’t good enough for some people.
The morning of our story began as a glorious day. Kate and her dad we getting things ready for what they thought might be a busy, but all around normal, morning. No scheduled staff were there yet, just those two exchanging banter while they stacked small cakes in the bright display cases. Kate was in the back of the store when she heard the door swing open. They weren’t technically open yet, she must have forgotten to lock it on the way back from grabbing her daily coffee (vital on these mornings). Whatever, she didn’t really mind. She announced to the customer that she’d be there in a minute as she was currently up to her elbows in sticky cake batter. She hustled to the front, and from just one look at the woman who'd entered her store, she knew instantly that things were about to get bad.
There stood Nancy. Arms crossed, scowl on her face. Kate knew immediately it was going to be one of those conversations.
Kate: "Good morning! I'm sorry for the-" Cut off mid apology
Nancy: "Um excuse me!' Slams her hand bag down on the front counter and places her cup of coffee down next to it, 'I'd like to place an order for a custom cake."
Kate: "Oh! That's fantastic! Please excuse me as we aren't fully opened yet, I had forgotten to lock the door behind myself. Let me just run to the back office and grab an order form!"
Nancy: "Fine. But I’m in a hurry."
Kate runs to the office to get the special order forms and tells her dad to keep an ear out on the conversation. She knows what is coming and her dad is great at helping in high anxiety situations.
Kate: "Awesome! What are you looking to get done with us today?"
Nancy: "I need a custom cake done for my little girl's 3rd birthday on Saturday."
It was currently Wednesday.
Kate: "Oh! I'm sorry but we normally require 7 days notice on placing a custom order. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of room left to take a custom order."
Nancy: "What do you mean you can’t take my order?! Do you not do custom cakes?!"
Kate: "Yes, we do, but we require 7 days notice to make sure we have the time and ingredients on hand to make the cakes look perfect."
Nancy: "Well, can't you just squeeze it in? It’s not complicated."
At this point Kate knew she should shut it down, but since she’s a nice person, she tried to help.
It turned out to be a mistake
Kate: "Well, it may be possible if it isn't complicated And just a basic birthday cake. Why don't you show me what you are looking to get done?"
It is good to note here that a basic birthday cake is exactly that, basic. A round cake with some buttercream on and some frosting. Nothing fancy.
When Kate saw what Nancy wanted, she had to stop herself from yelling out.
The cake Nancy wanted was massive. And not just massive, but with multiple layers and different edible flowers that alone take DAYS to do. Kate can’t seriously believe she wants this cake so quickly.
Kate: "I'm sorry Ma'am, but this is just too complex of a cake for me to squeeze in. I could do a basic birthday cake like this, But this is about as much as I can do with this short of notice."
Kate showed her some photos of a simple birthday cake. They looked nice and they had the advantage of being available by her date!
Nancy: Audibly huffs, "But I want these cakes. Can’t you just stay late and do them for me?! My daughter LOVES these and wants them! She just LOVES your cakes."
Seriously, she asked Kate to stay late to finish her cake after being rude to her.
Kate: "Well I'm very happy to hear she loves our cakes, but unfortunately I have to decline your order. I do not have the time to squeeze such a complex order in. I will not be staying later than I already am to take on another order I just cannot handle. The orders I have now have been booked weeks in advance, some even a year or two in advance. I'm sorry but all I can do is a basic birthday cake."
At this point Nancy gets angry. Kate knows what is coming.
Nancy’s face was getting redder and redder, like some sort of sentient tomato. Kate could picture her father in the back listening to the whole thing and either giggling or preparing himself.
Nancy: "I don't care about those cakes, I want to talk to the manager, I know they will take my order."
Kate: "Ma'am, I don't know who you think the manager is, because we don't have manager positions here. All staff are treated equally here. As well, I am the owner of this bakery."
Nancy: "Don't lie, you brat, You shouldn't even be here. You should be in school!"
Kate: "Ma'am, I can assure you I am not of school age and I am in fact the owner."
Of course, Kate's dad, ever the protective father, decides to step in here.
Nancy: "SEE! Now THIS!" -Points to Kate’s father- "Is the manager!"
Dad: "Hello, miss. Is there anything I can help with?"
Nancy: "Yes! Your employee won't take my order! She should get fired and she should be in school anyways!"
Dad: "I can assure you, I have no control over her employment and she cannot be fired. She is not in school, she owns the place. If she states she cannot take your order, she cannot take your order. She has offered you a simple cake that she could squeeze in but anymore than that, she has said no."
Nancy: "I don't care what the little brat says! She’s too young to even be here right now! Take my order!"
At this point, Kate and her dad are wondering how anyone can ever be this rude.
Dad: "Again, I can assure you, my daughter is NOT a student."
It finally starts to dawn on Nancy that Kate is the owner and not a student. But, that doesn’t deter her. She starts demanding the simple cake and what flavors she wants. That's when, suddenly, things hit the fan.
By this time, Kate just wanted her out of the store.
Kate: "Ok, ma'am, what flavor of cake and buttercream would you like for the cake?"
Nancy: "Chocolate peanut butter please."
Kate: "Ma'am, I’m sorry, but I cannot do that flavor. I do not have any extra Pea-NOT butter on hand to spare for a last minute cake. Perhaps you’d like another flavor?"
Nancy: "I don't want PeaNOT butter. I want real peanut butter."
Kate: "I'm sorry but we are a peanut and tree nut free bakery." points to the signs "I cannot do that."
Nancy: "Can’t you just keep mine separated from the others?"
Kate: "No. I'm sorry but I cannot. That would be illegal and would be putting those with allergies at risk. Sorry I cannot."
Nancy: huffs more angrily "Fine! The stupid PeaNOT butter than."
Kate: "Again, I'm sorry, but as I stated, I do not have any spare this week. Things like this need to be preordered to guarantee I have it on hand."
Nancy: "BUT I WANT PEANUT!"
Kate: "And I cannot do that. How about another flavor."
Nancy: "I do not want another flavor! Order more!"
Kate: "I can order more yes, but it will not be here in time to do your cake. I can't take it away from existing orders."
Nancy: "I WANT IT! Can’t you just find a way to do it!"
Kate: "No ma'am, there is no way I can do that flavor."
At this point, Kate's dad steps in as he can tell Kate has about had it with this awful woman. He knows something is about to happen, so he takes a genius step.
Kate's dad starts taking down her phone number, full name, and credit card number to charge the "deposit." He then says, "Please choose another flavor or don't place an order. We have a ton of work to do".
Nancy: "Don't tell me what to do! I want this cake! And I want it how I want!"
Kate: "Ma'am, please calm down. I am doing as much as I possibly can with such short notice. It is plainly written everywhere, 7 days notice for orders."
Nancy: "I don’t care I want this cake!"
Kate then saw something she hadn’t seen in years.
Nancy began to throw a tantrum like a three year old. And, as three years olds do, she starts to throw things. Unfortunately for everyone, the only thing she had in her hands was hot coffee. Even more unfortunately, she had a terrible aim. Her attempt to throw it at the wall ended up with the hot liquid splashing all over Kate, covering her shoulder in scalding hot coffee.
Kate:(Losing all professionalism) "WHY DID YOU DO THAT!?"
Dad runs to the back to grab first aid while Kate assess the damage. Insanely, Nancy is still there.
Nancy: Stares at Kate with crossed armed and huffing "Well, are you gonna take my order now or not?!"
Dad: "Are you kidding me?! You just threw hot coffee at her and you expect her to take your order?!"
Nancy: "Well, she should know that the customer is always right! Now take my order now!"
Side note, why do customers think "the customer is always right" extends to the customer being able to assault members of staff?
Kate was now enraged and not caring about her burnt shoulder: “Get out of my store NOW! I will NOT be taking your order! And you will not be allowed to place an order again!”
Nancy: "Don’t talk to me like that! I'm a customer! I'm paying for this cake!"
Kate: "What you're paying for is my ambulance ride to the emergency room! Dad, call the police. I will be pressing charges, ma'am, Now, please leave my store."
This is when it got out of control.
Kate's dad called the cops while Kate took a closer look at her shoulder. She took her shirt off to reveal some very red and tender skin. It was definitely going to require an emergency room visit. She started applying the burn ointment and realized Nancy is STILL standing there.
Nancy can clearly hear dad on the phone with the police and all of a sudden yells, “You can’t press charges on me! You don’t know who I am. You'll never be able to find me!”
Dad slyly waves the piece of paper with all her information on that she had provided for the "deposit slip."
Nancy realizes she’s in trouble and starts to freak. She violently tries to grab the slip of paper from the dad but he holds it out of her reach. When she realizes that it’s futile, she tries to make a break for it, despite no one trying to hold her back. In her rush, she misjudges the door and ends up smashing her face, escalating the situation to a ridiculous level.
Nancy: bleeding from her nose, "You did this to me! I'm charging you with assault! All this because you won't take a stupid cake order!"
Kate: "You did this to yourself! Now, leave my store!" Kate, being not a monster, shoved some of the medical gauze at her to help with her nose bleeding.
Nancy: "I'm not leaving until the police get here and have you arrested!"
Kate: "Suit yourself but get out of my store!"
Nancy let out on final huff then went to sit outside.
That’s when the police arrived and the real battle started.
Nancy was outside so the police see her first. She quickly runs to them and starts telling the officer how Kate assaulted her. The EMT’s take a look at Kate’s now blistering arm and recommend she goes to the ER.
As Kate is explaining her side of the story, Nancy continues to scream about how both Kate and her father need to be arrested for assault. But Kate had one final trick up her sleeve.
You see, most bakeries don’t have cameras, but Kate's bakery had been broken into the month before. Wanting them more as a deterrent than anything else, she purchased cameras that linked directly to her phone. As soon as Nancy realized the whole thing had been recorded, she announces that she is leaving. The police order her to stay until they have watched the video. After showing it to the officers, Kate announces that she would like to press charges, and that her dad has authority to act on her behalf while she’s in the ER.
Officer: "Sounds perfect."
Kate got into the ambulance and was taken to the ER, knowing full well her dad was staying behind to rip Nancy a new one.
The end of this story is the sweetest part.
Let’s hear it straight from Kate’s mouth: “Nancy ended up getting charged for assault and lying to the officer about false details of the event. She is also banned from all stores in the complex my bakery is in. This includes the after school programs a few doors down her child use to attend. She also was forced to pay for the ambulance ride to the ER. Also found out later she's also already banned from many other bakeries in the area when word got out what she had done to me.”
Revenge truly is sweet.